Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Drive-By Truckers: The Dirty South [New West, 2004]
Class warfare meets gangsta-rock. The imagistic density of the songs about working for a living till you die--especially Jason Isbell's poetic "The Day John Henry Died" and Patterson Hood's narrative "Puttin' People on the Moon"--makes the vicious cycle seem more inescapable; their class consciousness justifies the badass nihilism of the anti-Buford Pusser triptych like ghetto sob stories about dope lords' pain do, only without the sentimentality. Then there are the two about successful musicians. Sam Phillips was OK for a rich man, but he could only take Carl Perkins so far. And Rick Danko ends up not much better off alive than Richard Manuel is dead. A-